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I stopped by this theater on a Monday afternoon on my way back home from Albany, NY when for some reason my Garmin sent me through Scotia, NY. It was locked, but I lucked out when the owner/manager came in to do some work and gave me a tour. This theater is GORGEOUS and is emblematic of what can be done with the “labor of love.” The auditorium and balcony sparkle, there is nary a sign of dirt anywhere, the screen is pristine and the projection booth is the cleanest one I have ever seen! I trust that the good people of Scotia know what a gem they have in their village and support the owner’s efforts. Every small town should have its own theater; this one is a model of how to do that and how to do it right.
I was part of the group, The Olean Community Theatre, that staged the play in July of 1989 to which redwards referred. The musical was “Man of La Mancha,” and I played the lead role. It was marvelous to be a part of fixing the place up and watching the shine come back to the Palace through the efforts of many volunteers. There was even one volunteer who personally cleaned every seat.
One day when we were rehearsing, a former stage hand (from when the Palace was a vaudeville house) stopped by and told us stories about the various artists who had played the Palace. One interesting story was when Roy Rogers and Trigger were there and Trigger got cut in an accident that left a scar on Trigger.
The stage hand also told us a story which I used in my performances. Every night when I sang “The Impossible Dream” I stood on a trap door that he had pointed out to us which had been installed by Harry Houdini. It was my hope, while singing that song, that the Olean Community Theatre’s dream of making the Palace into a community performing arts center would come to fruition. Unfortunately, there were too many windmills to fight.
I have finally scanned my pictures, but the Cinema Treasures website for adding pictures is offline. Whenever the site is back I will put them in.
Unfortunately, my pictures are of the theatre just before it was razed. I hope they bring back some memories for all of the people who were fortunate to have been raised in and/or lived in the wonderful village of Westfield, New York, for the Grand Theatre was most certainly a key part of life during the 40s, 50s and 60s.
The marquee was curved so that on the corner it actually covered 180 degrees. One end of it could be seen looking south on North Portage Street while the other end of the marquee could be seen on West Main Street looking east from on the viaduct. For years and years it just said “Blatt Bros” on those ends. The theater had a fire at one time (in the 40s I believe), so before then is probably when there was a different marquee. The only marquee I ever knew from my childhood until the end was the big one.
I knew Mr. Mascaro and I also know Mr. Tetreault. I started working there right about the time that Tom left as manager and Bill Gollnitz took over. It was owned by the Blatt Bros Theatres chain the entire time I was there.
I have not lived in Westfiled since 1977, but have returned on a few occasions. Before the theatre was razed I returned to visit it one last time and took my 11 year old daughter with me to show her the house of dreams from my childhood. I called Tom and he gave me the key so I could go in the place. There was no power, but with flashlights the place was able to bring a smile to my face.
I remember being disappointed that the wall fabric featuring the comedy and tragedy masks had been torn down, but the seats remained when I was there. It was also strange that the projectors had been removed. I remember Tom telling me that they wanted to put one in the town museum (the McClurg Mansion). That would have been nice.
I took pictures that I would be glad to share with you.
I grew up in Westfield and loved attending the Grand Theater. I ended up working there when I was in college during the early 70s, at which time it was owned by Blatt Brothers and was open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I ran the projectors, tore tickets and sold concessions.
One summer we scrubbed, cleaned and repainted the marquee. We even replaced all of the light bulbs in that HUGE marquee- cases and cases and cases of them! After finishing the multi-day job we all went over into Moore Park in the dead of night and watched as the “newly refurbished” marquee was turned on. We jumped up and down like little kids, for in that magic moment you could feel the excitement of our past and present fellow villagers as they, in their respective eras, were drawn to that magic palace in downtown Westfield; a place where everyone could escape the troubles of the world and dream for a couple of hours.